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sasikala_004

BJP’s Shadow Play? Sasikala Back In The News, Determined To Control AIADMK

During the late J Jayalalithaa’s governance, Chennai’s Poes Garden was literally the epicentre of power. Nothing moved unless the diktat came from the iconic residence of the late CM, ably assisted by her confidante VK Sasikala Natarajan, a power centre in her own right. Sasikala, in near oblivion after her jail term has again surfaced and hit the headlines. She held a press meet at her imposing residence just across JJ’s home. Without much preamble, the lady announced “I have decided to get back my place and my party in electoral politics”. MGR and Jayalalithaa gave everything to build the AIADMK as the country’s third largest political party. But it has been sadly led into the worst setback by people with no vision, only greed and selfishness. She further added that she watched this debacle silently, and patiently like how “MGR taught me”. Both my leaders never used caste as the cornerstone…I too profess no caste. Making Edappadi CM when she was sent to jail was the beginning of the party’s downfall. She is determined to “free TN from the monstrous clutches of the DMK, unite AIADMK and bring back the glory. The rumbles and muttered exchanges are now growing louder. As also speculation was the message from the BJP high command to Sasikala to use her special talent to bring the broken bits together? For BJP her rise will be akin to killing two birds with a stone —EPS and DMK.
Tamilisai chandrababu

High Command Diktat Sees Tamilisai, Annamalai Smoke Peace Pipe

After the much talked about high voltage dressing down in public of BJP leader Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan by home minister Amit Shah during Chandrababu Naidu’s swearing-in ceremony, the whole clip going viral saw BJP doing damage control. Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai went to her residence to pay his respects and the media was peppered with the optics of this Akka-Thambi (sister-brother) closeness. Memes about the Tamil hit Shivaji Ganesan- Savitri film Pasa Malar flew thick and fast. Dr Soundararajan is from a staunch Congress family…father Kumari Ananthan and her late cousin Vijay Vasanth expressed their shock when she joined the BJP. But a patch up took place when she married Dr Soundararajan in the presence of the two tallest Dravidian leaders –MGR and Kalaignar, underscoring her debut as a young leader. Her unique hairstyle and bright sarees have been mocked sometimes cruelly after her defeat by suave and sophisticated Tamizhacchi Thangapandian. Many opposition leaders used to tease her Tamilisai “Parattai” (unkempt sloppy hairdo) they called her. Unfazed she would shoot back… I may be, but at least my hair is original, not a wig master, Ouch! Stalin. With over 25 years of public life, walking out of two Governorships, this 62-year old former TN BJP chief post is relevant in her own right. An election loss and the public exposure, however anti-party, all stemmed from stress. Will Congress welcome her after Amit Shah publicly ticked her off?  Tamilisai’s predicament is aptly described by the 17th century poet John Milton in Paradise Lost where he says “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
vijay sethupathi

Ordinary Looks, Extraordinary Talent Makes Vijay Sethupathi A Bankable Star In South

Forty-six year old Vijay Sethupathi, who predominantly works in Tamil cinema, is an actor who never fails his fans. This director’s delight, bankable hero has none of that “chikna charm” of a stereotype film hero — brawn, Greek God profile, towering personality and a deejay’s baritone. But he comes alive on screen as a wholesome, dependable artist who carries off the entire film with his performance. Those who have seen his debut movie Thenmerku Paruvakaatru in 2010 remember his goatherd character to this day. Sethupathi has crossed many milestones and is confident that his 50th movie, Maharaja will get acclaimed just like his earlier hits Vikram Vedha, Sundarapandian, Pizza, 96 to name a few. His calm and controlled nature rarely kicks up cinematic storms…though recently he refused to co-star with Krithi Shetty for DSP. Reason: “In an earlier movie Krithi acted as my daughter. I made her feel really secure…even told her to think I am your real father. So I am not going to act with her as my female lead,” he said. In the film 96, which was a hit, he was paired with Trisha and critics did talk about a winsome youthful Trisha teaming up with an overweight Sethupathi as a classmate. His Vikram Vedha with Madhavan and Naanum Rowdy Dhaan with the lady superstar Nayanthara zoomed up the charts. Sethupathi has none of that ham handed heaviness in his portrayals. Fifty films old Vijay Sethupathi is as genuine as American Apple pie or South Indian Filter Coffee …no glamour but guarantee.
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Annamalai Politely Refuses Cabinet Berth, Eyes 2026 Tamil Nadu Assembly Poll

Thirty nine year old Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai proves yet again that he is an enigma, hard to decode and dogged in his efforts, untiring and unbeatable. Stepping into the BJP in 2019, and getting leadership in 2021, his mercurial rise within the party is astounding. Within four years he proved his mettle of building the BJP presence from around 4% to 11.26 % vote share in the just concluded Lok Sabha election. His detractors and rivals were happy when he was summoned to the swearing-in ceremony of PM Modi and his team. His defeat in Coimbatore must have been a big sting. Happy that he would be put to pasture in a cabinet berth and vacate TN’s hot seat as the leader. The three aspirants, Tamilisai Soundararajan, Vanathi Srinivasan and Nayinar Nagendran were already drumming up support to move into Annamalai’s post. Even as he sat in the last row when the PM gave his motivational sermon his strong opponents DMK and AIADMK leaders were trying to read his body language. Surprise and shock was writ large on his party colleagues, his antagonists and cadres when he flew back to TN thereby signalling that he had high command’s full backing. It was not surprising as Annamalai has single-handedly cobbled a BJP presence in TN, worked 24/7, walked padayatra, taken on the ruling party on many issues and remained politically significant. Above all, in a Dravidam state alternating between the DMK and AIADMK, he brought relevance to Hindutva and the BJP. He may have ruffled many feathers both within his party and opposition but he is here to stay for a long haul.
Udhayanidhi kanimozhi

Stalin’s Balancing Act, Appoints Kanimozhi As Parliamentary Party Leader

Finally, the Tamil Nadu chief minister taking a leaf out of his father’s strategy decided to appoint his half-sister Kanimozhi, who was elected from the Thoothukudi Lok Sabha constituency, as the DMK’s parliamentary leader. She replaced the Sriperumbudur MP T R Baalu. For now she is happy. It may be known TR Baalu has been running this post for decades and was expecting another go. Even his son, finance minister TRB Rajaa in Stalin’s government, was keen to move to Delhi.  Meanwhile Stalin’s wife Durga has made it clear that son Udhayanidhi should be anointed Deputy CM and so that he can prove his mettle in controlling the party and the government in the run up to 2026 assembly elections. Strangely enough Kalaignar Karunanidhi faced the same family mutiny when the UPA was in power. His sons Alagiri and Stalin were at loggerheads over who would head the party and move into Kalaignar’s chair. Wily politician/ tactician that he was, he got Alagiri into the central cabinet of the UPA in 2009 as Minister for Chemicals & Fertilisers, and eased Stalin’s claim to the TN Gaddi.  For now Stalin has bought peace on both fronts. Now for the anointment of his son as deputy CM post.
malayalam movies

Are Cute And Quirky Malayalam Movies New Flavour Of Entertainment?

The just released Malayalam comedy movie Guruvayoor Ambala Nadayil’ has raked in Rs 50 crore in one week and Rs 85 crore in just 18 days. Of this, it raked Rs 43 crore in Kerala alone. A big percentage of Kerala’s population of nearly 3.46 crore work in the Middle East. For them a movie with Mammootty, Mohanlal and Prithviraj Sukumaran is the best treat. The Kerala film industry has done very well albeit with dramatic transformation from “art film, realism and simplistic presentation” Malayalam movies have emerged as entertainment winners. Simultaneously, stars too have hit the sweet spot of success. Prithiviraj Sukumaran, almost super star, producer, script writer and even singer is at the peak of success. In Guruvayoor Ambala Nadayil’ as a comic lead which is a totally divergent role from his recent cult classic Aadujeevitham that garnered Rs 160 crore. Prithvi fans are on a high, but the star himself is careful not to make ripples in the star ecosystem where Mammootty and Mohanlal reign supreme.  Prithviraj fell in love with the famed BBC journalist Supriya Menon Aren Mumbai and married her. The couple run a very profitable partnership. Not that he has no challenges in his starscape…Fahad Fasil, Joju George and others are fast catching up. The recent mega hit Manjummel Boys, Falimy (a quirky spell), Padmini and Bro Daddy succeeded though the prevailing crime and police films that dominated for quite some time. OTT has brought realism to the home viewer. Malayalam cinema is the new flavour of entertainment.
EPS jaya

Is EPS Responsible For Running AIADMK Aground?

In Tamil Nadu, AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) is seen as leading the most routed party that MGR had built as an iconic political behemoth which was lovingly sustained by J Jayalalithaa till her untimely death. His adamant stance to go it alone and not have an alliance with the BJP saw his party AIADMK being nearly wiped out in the Lok Sabha polls. Edappadi claims that he had the 2026 Assembly elections as his pole star and did not want to give up the party’s unique identity. In a tear jerking letter to his cadres he said, “I am addressing this to you all my dear friends …I don’t know how to express my gratitude to you all for working so hard for the election. Our party is a historic institution built by MGR…a temporary eclipse has been cast on us.” He says that the subversion of power, money and fake promises by the winning side is the sole reason why his party lost. In a first, his party’s candidates lost deposits in seven seats. Looking at AIADMK’s vote share of 20.46% vs the DMK’s 26.93%, it seems Edappadi has not lost his way to end up in political oblivion. But with BJP’s surprise showing at 11.24%, it is logical to think that if EPS and BJP had fought the elections together it could have been a win-win situation for both. The ‘wise analysts’ say it’s better for him to mend fences with the old faithful’s of Jayalalithaa –Sasikala, OPS and TTV —  and then the scattered factions can rise like the Phoenix. Does Edappadi have the diplomatic elan and charm offensive of the late MGR? Not quite.
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Kamal Haasan’s Much-Awaited ‘Indian 2’ Sounds The Bugle With Music Launch

Tamil film’s ace director S Shankar and Ulaga Nayakan Kamal Haasan are all set to unveil Indian 2 with a big bang music launch event. Indian of 1996 which is still etched in cinephiles memory as a blockbuster was long awaiting a sequel. Kamal instinctively felt box office history could be created, yet again. Though his busy political and cinematic persona clashed and caused some stress to all concerned in his innermost circles, the Indian 2 is ready for a July release. Lyca Productions and Red Giant Movies are expected to hype marketing and media profile, to screen this extravaganza. One factor the audience is sure of is that even if the storyline does not punch at optimum weight, Kamal is sure to grab admiration with his acting as an old man. When Shankar is at the head of the table, one can anticipate extraordinary action and performances from his band of actors….an ensemble cast with Siddharth, Kajal Aggarwal, SJ Surya, Rakul Preet Singh and Bobby Simha.  The music director Anirudh and two singles Para and Neelothpal have not disappointed their fans. The music launch at Nehru Stadium, a venue that portends hits, and besotted fans are not about to miss the event. When Kamal, Shankar and Anirudh hit the stage, the sound of music hits the high notes. And the Box office jingles.
modi meditate

Modi Outwits The Opposition By His Spiritual Silence

Global and local media did not need a GPS to descend en masse on Kanniyakumari, Indian peninsula’s land’s end, to the majestic Vivekananda Rock, a standing sentinel, guarding this spiritual and ancient civilisation. The Opposition cried hoarse over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 45-hour meditation. The numerous panel debates could as well mean it was “deceitful, surreptitious, covert, duplicitous, artful, guileful.” Modi planned like Chanakya, some say better, to decimate his detractors by undertaking this high voltage event in saffron garb. No one could have replicated the powerful message…a PM praying for his country and people.  With leaders like Rishi Sunak, Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau, Benjamin Netanyahu lurching from crisis to crisis to hold on to their perch, Modi brings back an ancient Hindu spiritual state to keep a strong hold over his party, country and ideology. Many questions have been raised, even asking EC to stop this “drama“. Dushyant Sridhar, once a powerful corporate and now at the height of popularity for his spiritual discourses says “Why object to Modi’s choice of the Vivekananda Rock for meditation? Who prevented Rahul and others from picking on their own modes for reaching their electorates? There are those who are literally having heartburn that a PM is “campaigning” at State expense. Tamil Nadu police, tasked with the PM’s security are said to have deployed a 2000 strong contingent for his protection, including a team of professional divers.  A Teflon coated PM seems totally inured to all this mud-slinging. Modi’s meditation could well pan out to be one the greatest spiritual impact events in the world.
kajol prabhudeva

Photo : @itsKajolD @PDdancing

After 27 Years, Kajol And Prabhudeva Team Again For A Telugu Film

The year 1997, an exotic pairing of Kajol, the creole beauty and Prabhudeva, India’s undisputed King of contemporary dance took the audience to a new level of entertainment. The film, Minsara Kanavu ( Electric Dreams) directed by Rajiv Menon, with music by AR Rahman danced away with four national awards — Best Music Director, Best Singers both male and female and Best Dance Director. Arvind Swami added histrionic weight to the narrative. The film not only entertained but inspired a comic slogan to the Tamilians (talented word crafters) who suffered frequent power cuts. They came up with the taunt “Minsarame Kanavu ( for us electricity is itself a dream ).This exotic pair are now coming together after 27 years for a Telugu film, directed by CharanRaj Upplipatt, with able support by Naseeruddin Shah and Samyukta Menon. The production house has announced that the first phase of this thriller filming is complete and the teaser is to be out soon. The song Vennilave Vennilave Vinnai thandi varuvaya is still remembered. Will Kajol and Prabhudeva electrify the audience yet again?
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Should Symphony King Ilayaraja Ignore Plagiarism?

At 81, Ilayaraja remains the emperor of melodies. But of late he has painted his incomparable talent and self into a controversial corner. Recently SUN Pictures released the trailer of their upcoming Rajnikanth potboiler, Coolie with Anirudh composing music. Ilayaraja was angry to hear his composition from Thanga Magan, in a digital garb used in the trailer. He promptly sent a legal notice. This side of a gentle genius irritated film folks, with filmdom abounding in instances of copyright infringement. In the midst of this controversy this Rajya Sabha MP had the time and talent to announce the completion of a full scale symphony he composed in just 35 days. His talent and stature is so high, and some detractors are saying, does it behove his standing to send legal notice? Music borrowing, plagiarism or theft, call what you may, is a global phenomenon; Arabian belly dance tunes, African drum beats , tribal taals, from the great Indian music composers, Saint Thyagaraja, Annamiah etc are freely lifted. Often turning melodious music into cacophony. Ilayaraja, known fondly as Isaignanai (sage of music) has compiled  over 7000 film songs, scored music for over 1000 films and performed in 20,000 concerts. He is a music composer, conductor, orchestrator, multi- instrument player, lyricist and singer who has no equal. Recently, the famous music duo sisters Ranjani and Gayatri performed on stage with Ilayaraja sitting in the front row. They drew repeated applause for the Thyagaraja composition in Raga Charumati, Mari Mari Ninne which Ilayaraja immortalised as his base for the hit song Paatu ariyen, padippariyen, pallikoodam thaan ariyen in the film Sindhu Bhairavi. Ilayaraja, your kind of genius is rare and immortal. Think of plagiarism as the best adulation.
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Has AIADMK Chief “No Alliance” Strategy Paid Off?

On 12th May all roads in Tamil Nadu led to Salem. Naturally. It was the 70th birthday of AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami popularly known as EPS. The road to his lavish residence was thronged with well-wishers, birthday celebrators and other political peeping toms who had come to assess his strength. A hugely confident and commanding Palaniswami stood on his porch and accepted the garlands, fruits, gifts and adulation like a Roman emperor. This crowd, despite his request to stay off coming to Salem as the heat was overpowering. From 8 am to 12 noon he stood valiantly, but had to plead exhaustion and asked for a chair when the greeters line still extended. Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi, senior BJP leaders K Annamalai, Tamilisai Soundararajan , H Raja , Dr Krishnaswami, Tamil film hero Thala Vijay and a host of political who’s who greeted him. Even as Annamalai had predicted that OPS would wean back the AIADMK after the election tie-up with the BJP, even after erstwhile self-styled general secretary Sasikala Natarajan made several efforts to reclaim her “legacy”, even after TTV Dinakaran smugly postured that EPS’s go-it- alone strategy would fall and fail, Edappadi seems to have hit the best option – both for him and the party’s future. Even as the 70 kg cake was being cut, guests were drawn to the Lotus shaped candles that Edappadi lit, and blew. Who knows about the occult significance of the lotus shaped candles? But definitely the DMK could be unnerved by this rallying round Edappadi. 2026 is a big question mark. And the game of thrones goes on.
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Priyanka Vadra’s Intense Poll Drive Lifts The Spirit Of Cong Cadres In Uttar Pradesh

In a scorching campaign, Priyanka Vadra walks, talks and takes the BJP head on, holding her saree pallu in a spitting image of her Dadi, and the UP crowds roar in déjà vu approval. Why didn’t the Congress field both siblings from the family seats – Amethi and Raebareli? The glib explanation that if both stand, who will take care of the campaign? Behind the scenes murmur reveals a plausible gambit. Priyanka has to contend with her husband Robert Vadra’s claim for a seat, an ambition that could queer the pitch for Rahul. Sonia is now on mission mode, Rahul has to win from Raebareli. Priyanka has galvanised over 7000 Congress workers to visit every nook and corner of both the constituencies. Her latest plan is to camp in Raebareli and Amethi till May 18 and cover every stump group she can address. Wait and watch …Priyanka may yet outdo her Dadi…if she lands that slot.
thug life

A scene from ‘Thug Life’ which got leaked on social media

After An Interval, Ace Director Mani Ratnam Back To ‘Thug Life’

Now that the election Punch and Judy show is over in Tamil Nadu, south India’s biggest director Mani Ratnam is seriously back to shooting Thug Life. For those who may not recall why Mani Ratnam wants to get back to Thug Life, Raj Kamal Movies, Red Giant Movies and Madras Talkies announced their joint venture creation with a marquee star lineup. Kamal Haasan heads the cast, Trisha, Dulquer Salmaan, Jeyam Ravi, Aishwarya Lekshmi to name a few. The elections came as a speed breaker, with Kamal campaigning for the DMK. The shooting was also paused as Dulquer and Jeyam Ravi opted out as they could not accommodate the delayed call sheets. After much debate, Simbu was signed up for Dulquer’s role and Aravind Swamy in place of Jeyam Ravi. It is interesting to note that all these stars have worked with Mani Ratnam, a comfort level both share. Simbu had given the hit Cheka Sivanda Vaanam. Recently a schedule with Kamal, Simbu, Abirami and Nasser was shot in Delhi. Simbu coming on board was marked by glimpse video teasers, especially the one which shows a huge dust drift kicked up presumably by a car driven by him titled “A New Thug in Town “. Mani Ratnam and his iconic treatment of every storyline he films is pure cinematic genius. His muse could be a Thug, Saint or the Devil himself. The audience is waiting impatiently to watch his thuggery.
gangs kuruthi punal

Amazon Prime Temporarily Pauses Shooting Of Soundarya Rajinikanth’s Web Series

Candidly speaking, it’s a hard to follow act for the children of cinematic Icons…especially if you are the progeny of global icon, superstar Rajinikanth. His daughters Aishwarya and Soundarya have been under the constant filmi microscope of public view. The sisters have lived through rocky lives –both personal and professional. Both have tried their hand at cinema production and direction. With a few films produced and directed by her, much was expected of Aishwarya’s recent film Lal Salaam with a bespoke cameo by Rajinikanth himself. Lal Salaam did not do well at the box office. Other sister Soundarya is still smarting with the huge financial loss of her films Kochadayan and Goa. For 10 years she stayed away from the filmi world. Then Amazon Prime’s web series, Gangs Kuruthi Punal came her way as producer, an opportunity she must have coveted. But midway through the shoot in Puducherry, things started going south, and it overshot the budget. Her director Nova came in for criticism and things turned sour with him being blamed for not having better control. With Sathyaraj and Nasser heading the series, the production could have succeeded but when the money flow was stopped, Soundarya was cornered once again. Then came the announcement by Amazon Prime that a course correction would be in order. Can Soundaraya salvage the series?
suriya sudha

What Went Wrong In The Sudha Kongara-Suriya Partnership?

Popular Tamil film hero Suriya’s career zoomed with Soorarai Pottru in 2022 and its ace director Sudha Kongara Prasad walked away with the Filmfare Award for best film, her second after Irudi Suttru in 2020. Soorarai Pottru traversed that thin line where a biography straddles a documentary and a gripping drama of a self-driven entrepreneur, Captain Gopinath who took wings with Deccan Airways.The film’s huge success in both cinemas and OTT was as much due to the inspired direction of Sudha Kongara as to Suriya’s compelling performance. The duo’s next film Puranaanooru naturally raised high expectations. Suddenly rumours flew thick and fast about differences between Sudha and Suriya, who was also producing this film under his home production 2 D films. First, there were speculations about Suriya’s dates’ availability; the film had to be shot extensively in colleges in south India during the vacation but because of election fever it was difficult to get a suitable venue. Set in the sixties Puranaanooru needed huge outlay — around Rs 60 crore to replicate that period. To scotch the rumours, a joint statement was issued by them which stated that the film is postponed. Meanwhile, it is learnt that Sudha has moved on to her next film with Dhruv Vikram in the lead. Who knows Suriya’s loss could be Dhruv’s gain!
stalin holiday

photo : asianetnews.com

Superstition Or Lucky Charm: Why Stalin Is Holidaying In Kodaikanal

Post April 19, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin had an onerous task of getting voting feedback from every constituency, in keeping with his clarion call — 40 on 40 for DMK and its allies. Satisfied about the outcome, Stalin then set off on April 29 with wife Durga and family to cool off in Kodaikanal, the hill resort de rigueur for the angrez. But this powerful and wealthy family could have chosen any ritzy global getaway, so why Kodai? Wags and watchers are busy with superstition theories. Post 2021 Assembly polls, Stalin sought this same hill station even as the DMK supremacy news wafted in. Whatever the rationalist ideology, agnostic posture, superstition is rife among most Indians — especially politicians who reach out to vaastu experts, numerologists and astrologers surreptitiously. It is recalled that family pointsman son-in-law V Sabareesan predicted a huge victory margin in 2021. This election, his ministers have concerns of a different kind; Stalin has warned that any plunge in vote share would directly hit the minister in charge of that constituency. So they are speculating that the CM could be planning axing some names, after feedback from the oracles. Stalin is busy assuring his coterie that no such exigency may arise as he expects DMK to sweep the polls this time too. So where does this leave the BJP? Psephologists have different stories to say. The day of reckoning is June 4.
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Is Coimbatore The Hottest Battleground In This Election?

Probably, no candidate, no constituency and no state has made this kind of a news in previous elections as has  Coimbatore in the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections . With reams of reviews and bundles of money wagered and spent, Coimbatore has stood out like a starburst in the very first phase. The moment meteor Malai, Annamalai was named as BJP’s candidate, all six assembly segments went into a tizzy. Sulur, Palladam, Kavundanpalayam are seen as pocket boroughs of the DMK and its alter ego, the AIADMK. Singanallur, Coimbatore North and CBE South are distinct urban strongholds, with overriding corporates and educated elite, and these three segments worked non-stop for Annamalai — 28,000 volunteers, vetted and conscripted worked for him. DMK, on its part, convinced its ally CPM to move over, and allow its candidate Ganapati Rajkumar to contest against Annamalai.  Despite all the hype, the ground reality was that the BJP had very few booth level managers/workers, they had to “import” rank outsiders. Interestingly, all opinion polls and surveys seem to be specially focussed on Annamalai’s Coimbatore constituency and the entire state. And most of them indicate Annamalai has an edge but there is no gain saying the fact that he has emerged as a dominant force in Tamil Nadu politics. This David has age on his side so can vanquish the aging Goliaths to eventually emerge the victor.
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Tamil Film Heroes Dressed In White Cast Their Votes

Tamil Nadu is probably the most star and film crazy state. Here, films and politics mesh and meld.  Even on polling day, watching these superheroes and the media feeding frenzy they generated was evident at the polling booths. TN is probably one of the best organised states in terms of election logistics and arrangements, meticulously planned and executed for hassle-free voting. But such well-oiled execution often gets overshadowed, even unacknowledged, by the entry of stars, with the media in droves praising the star for casting his vote. Stella Maris College and Eldams Road polling stations garnered much attention as the two superstars descended to cast their votes. Action, camera and buzz levels rose, though it must be said that these two took their turns in the line to get their fingers inked and ballot papers verified. Apart from Kamal and Rajini, Karthik, Vijay, Ajit, Vijay Sethupathi, Vikram, Suriya Trisha and a host of stars made a splash today by turning up early in the day. Surprisingly, most of them were dressed in white? Except Kamal who came in a white and teal green T or Vijay Sethupathi. The penny dropped when a media smart said, “They wanted to avoid speculations about party affiliations. So white was the best option”. The terrible heat and overwhelming humidity could well have been the reason for cool white. Does it matter what the stars wore..it was not a fashion ramp …just your neighbourhood polling booth.
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In Dharmapuri Its No Holds Barred Fight Between PMK And AIADMK

Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu seems to be a fiery battleground this election. Both AIADMK and PMK are locked in a no-holds battle. AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) is quite livid that PMK’s Dr Anbumani Ramadoss who almost signed a seat sharing deal with AIADMK, ditched them at the last moment, tied-up with BJP. As a strategy Dr Anbumani has fielded his wife Sowmiya who has the heft to woo women voters like a film star. In a show of strength the entire PMK family founders and other heavyweights are camping out to ensure Sowmiya wins. Sowmiya takes direction from both father-in-law, Party founder Dr S Ramadoss and husband Dr Anbumani, a former Union health minister. Her three daughters move around and appeal to elderly women. The feeling that a family which campaigns together makes a collective impact, predominates. But EPS is roaring like a wounded tiger…this Lok Sabha constituency has six assembly segments. He too is ensuring that AIADMK wins the Dharmapuri seat. The demographics here tell a different story…a significant number are Vellala Gounders (EPS’s community). A huge 47% are from the schedule lists…these voters are AIADMK loyalists. It may take much convincing for them to switch loyalties, especially to forgive PMK’s expediency. Looks like sentiments and traditions are battling it out in Dharmapuri.
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Has Tamil Film Superstar Vijay Spread Himself Thin To Jump Into Politics?

The past couple of years have been a free run for Tamil film superstar Vijay…Tarzan like he jumps from big budget film to bigger budget film, marketing them , keeping ahead in the “most profitable star” race and of course, making that all too familiar transition to politics. Reportedly, he had a spat with Dad Chandrasekhar, his wife Sangeetha had taken off to her UK home and he only vibed with mother Shobha. So his fans were restive about his jump to politics. Meanwhile, his much talked about 68th film, GOAT, a Venkat Prabhu directed sci fi extravaganza with Prabhu Deva and a host of Kollywood names have been marketed and hyped sky high. His swan song, the 69th film has already raised speculation; it was to be made by the RRR makers DVV Films but it pulled out, leaving behind three contenders –Sun Pictures, AGS Entertainment and Seven Screen films. As anticipated this last film spins around politics. But he has made it clear that his party Tamilaga Vettri Kazhagam would be in the fray for the 2026 assembly elections. Meanwhile he fulfilled his mother’s wishes by building a Sai Baba temple in Korattur. Devotees are thronging the temple especially on Thursdays. Is the big draw for Sai Baba or Vijay is hard to gauge. But, there is no denying he is a compulsive newsmaker.
Rahul MKStalin

Over Confidence Or Over Dependence? Why Rahul Gandhi Did Not Campaign In Tamil Nadu Like PM Modi?

After the announcement of the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited Tamil Nadu over eight times…more to follow. His stormtroopers Amit Shah, JP Nadda, Amit Shah and L Murugan have literally camped in TN. But why is Rahul Gandhi not sparing his time and attention to this important state, with a history of a heritage relationship with DMK over the years? After much surprise expressed by Congress cadres, Rahul is scheduled to visit TN on April 12, that too an afternoon sortie in Tirunelveli where he campaign for the I.N.D.I.A front candidate, and a cameo role with Stalin at Coimbatore, the current epicenter of the electoral battle in TN. Even his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too has not bothered to visit TN where so many women candidates are in the fray. Modi’s roadshows and lavish attention garnering campaign meetings in TN has intrigued all political watchers. Of course, it’s a valiant effort by a PM to thunder with a third alternative to the Dravidian Monopoly, and this concentrated focus is already showing optics of a significant rise in the BJP presence. So it is logical that Rahul and Congress go all out to counter the BJP rise. Newly minted TN Congress chief Selva Perundagai claimed that if he had pressurized, both Rahul and Kharge would have camped in TN. “But why waste our efforts, when Stalin has guaranteed that his campaign is more than enough”. Is Rahul over-depending on DMK?
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Has Popular Tamil Film Hero Suriya Hit A Rough Patch?

This happens, frequently in Bolly, Kolly or any wood, when top stars suddenly face a drought. Salman Khan has lived through it for nearly three years. Popular Tamil film hero Suriya Sivakumar seems to be going through a similar predicament. He has had no new outings after the super success of Soorarai Pottru (Sudha Kongara directed biopic on Captain GR of Air Deccan fame). Then was followed by Jai Bhim in 2022, also critically acclaimed but politically a sensitive theme that brought unease to Suriya. His highly publicised Kanguva is under post production. Meanwhile Suriya had another setback. The much expected second Sudha Kongara creation, Puranaanuru has been shelved. So when Suriya and Karthik Subburaj jointly announced a new venture under Suriya’s home production 2D, it raised the excitement levels of his fans. Suriya and Subburaj have agreed to work for free and will share profit once the film does well at the box office. Subburaj is said to have written the story for Vijay originally, but many say it was scripted keeping Suriya as the hero in that suave and strong role that he excels in …will it be another Kaakha Kaakha or the Shaolin, Ezhaam Arivu? Suriya and his wife Jyotika have endured much gossip lately, when they shifted out of Chennai to Mumbai. In-laws issue? No, insists Jyotika, it’s just for kids’ schooling and her professional needs. Jyotika has resurrected her career in a big way. Can Suriya do likewise?
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BJP’s Tamilisai Soundararajan Asks DMK Uncomfortable Questions

When the former Governor of Telangana and Puducherry Tamilisai Soundararajan decided to contest South Chennai seat on a BJP ticket against the DMK incumbent Tamizhachi Thangapandian it made for hot news and speculation. The general question DMK and other political parties were asking was: Why did she come out of the Raj Bhavan? Unable to hold back, Tamilisai Soundararajan finally lashed out at her opponents asking “Why are you people so focussed on my getting out of Raj Bhavan? Why does it bother you? Ok…let me tell you. If Kanimozhi can get out of Tihar jail and contest elections, I can too. At least I did not come from Tihar.” And this canard that BJP lacks candidates has been countered by her asking, why should Kanimozhi stand from Tuticorin or Dayanidhi Maran from south Chennai? Does the DMK lack suitable candidates? “I have come out to the streets to campaign for my leader, for myself, for the kind people of south Chennai and make a mark. And mark my words, I am going to talk about every act of omission and commission of the DMK, expose their greed and chicanery. Try and stop me,” thundered Soundararajan in her election rally. Oh! Boy, this lady has courage and chutzpah.
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Trisha Unseats Superstar Nayanthara From The #1 Slot

Twenty-two years after her debut in 2002 in Tamil movie Maunam Pesiyade, Trisha Krishnan has proved that her staying power is awesome. A fine blend of looks, talent and guts, Trisha, Mani Rathnam’s muse in the much-talked about Ponniyin Selvan has moved into the number one slot so far held by Nayanthara. Her character Kundavai was as much talked about as Aishwarya Rai’s Ponni in the magnum opus, skyrocketing her popularity. Today, Trisha has over 12 movies in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. She stars with Salman Khan in the The Bull. The list of her to be released movies would turn any top heroine envious. Thug Life, VidaMuyarchi, GOAT, Saduranga Vettai all with top actors like Vijay, Ajit, Kamal and now Salman. Naturally, it has pitchforked her remuneration to 12 crore per film. Nayanthara and Samantha were getting around Rs 8-10 crore. Once seen as Rana Dagubatti’s significant other, she broke up with him, and walked into two much talked about engagements; then she walked out of it at the last minute from both, raising her hellion reputation to more highs.  She has led her personal life very much the way she desired, not afraid of reputation smears. Media has chronicled her midnight beach escapades with chosen friends, in spirited states. But when it comes to work, she adheres punctiliously to form and meets her director’s expectations, a trait that the volatile world of films really values. Without doubt Trisha is riding high.
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Dissidents On Rise In Tamil Nadu See An Ex-Cop Turn Into A Superstar In The Shortest Time

 “Malai da, Annamalai”, a famous Tamil punch dialogue from Superstar Rajinikanth’s movie Annamalai still pulls punches after 30 years. The Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai could well have reinvented this punch in his meteoric rise. He has risen to be the fastest brand in TN politics, after idolising MGR and Jayalalithaa. A Tamil digital page has an insightful take on what happened in Coimbatore recently. The Sangh Parivar and all other BJP resources had attended this motivational conclave in big numbers, including Ajay Ghosh, Vibhav Pracharak who spearheaded the strategy for the candidates — a mild caution against overconfidence and taking mass support for granted. Annamalai strode to the dais and belted out what seemed as a rebuff to all dissident voices. He is said to have thundered “…my mission is not to bring the North and South poles in alignment. I am here as Modiji’s choice for Coimbatore. I already have the three and a half lakh vote numbers. I have not come here depending on any power to boost my efforts and strategy.” The Sangh Parivar is said to have been stunned by this overriding confidence, and perceived lack of sensitivity to the common aim of party unity. But sources at BJP HQ in Chennai have a totally different spin. It is just Annamalai’s undiluted faith in Brand Modi and his loyalty to the creed of his party…that mere faces are not enough to win, you need the super optics power of Modiji to withstand the Dravidian behemoth.
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BJP’s Radhika Sarathkumar: The Accidental Candidate For Virudhunagar

For over 30 years, Radhika Saratkumar reigned as the iconic diva of both big screen and TV. Her very first film, Kizhakke Pogum Rail (East bound train) broke all records for a newcomer. Now the question being asked will this train Vadakke Poguma, (go North) to Parliament, New Delhi? Sixty-one year old Radhika herself may admit that the course she has to run is trying, tough and treacherous in the Virudhunagar constituency. She of the smash Tamil serial hit, Chithi would definitely resort to homegrown nostalgia in her stump speeches. The perception is that brand BJP plus Saratkumar( her superstar husband) plus Radhika’s enduring film popularity, her numerous product endorsements , her profitable Radan pictures , and her woman next door gharelu image could resonate with Virudhunagar voters. But, Congress’s Manik Tagore is no push over. He won the seat twice out of his three outings. As for Vijay Prabhakar, son of the late “Captain” Vijaykant, jointly fielded by AIADMK and DMDK, may reap the sympathy votes and huge popularity of his father. But the ground reality here is totally heart wrenching — lakhs are jobless with the predominant fire cracker and matchbox industry falling on hard times hit by cheap Chinese products. The second highest job provider is the weaving industry which faces the desperation and angst of 60,000 jobless. Radhika has very little time to scope her constituency and even less time to project what she can do for her electorate.
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With BJP Gaining Traction In Tamil Nadu, Stalin Using His Full Armoury To Stay Ahead In The Race

When he started his Lok Sabha poll campaign from Trichy, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin was intent only on radiating confidence and positivity that the DMK would remain the Cock of the Walk. But cannily, he also commissioned bi-weekly surveys through his son-in-law, V Sabareesan’s poll outfit. The latest survey results throws up some uncomfortable truth — BJP stands in second in some constituencies. This has instilled fear denting the super confidence that victory was already DMK’s. Stalin shared this survey finding with AIADMK to trigger a concerted action plan. The BJP has galvanised its star candidates like K Annamalai, Tamilisai Soundararajan, L Murugan, Nainaar Nagendran and insisted it’s ally partner leaders OPS , TTV and others too face the electorate as candidates. The only exception has been Dr Anbumani Ramadoss; he has fielded his wife Dr Sowmiya. A reliable source says Anbumani is determined to get into Parliament on a reserved seat. There is also talk that BJP is using saam, daam, dand, bhed to ensure its success. The cost of acquiring TN voters has gone very high. But like in all high value races, misinformation/disinformation is seen as the  ploy in confusing the opponent. Stalin is said to have given whip talk to his followers that they should leave nothing to chance, but use their poll armoury to full extent.
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Yet Another Doctor Is Fielded From The Family Fiefdom Of PMK

Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a leading party in Tamil Nadu under the leadership of founder Dr S Ramadoss and incumbent leader and son, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss has jumped on the BJP bandwagon after jettisoning AIADMK’s offer at the eleventh hour. Out of the 10 seats allotted, one was definitely for the former Union health minister Dr Anbumani. The wise soothsayers had even predicted the family’s long time turf, Dharmapuri as the constituency of choice for him. In a surprising turn of events his wife Dr Sowmiya Anbumani is now fielded from Dharmapuri, the first time a lady of the house of Ramadoss is to contest in an election. Dr Sowmiya, a PHD in Sociology, who heads the party mouthpiece, Makkal TV claims “ I am no novice to election grind. I have worked for my husband and know my constituency well….confident that our women voters would elect me. As for Dharmapuri, an agri centre for mangoes, millets, tomatoes, tamarind and silkworm production, I plan to negotiate better support prices for them.” She also plans to set up SIPCOT industrial estates to lure back over three lakh workers who have gone out in search of jobs. Even if she is whistling in the dark to take on the mighty Dravidian parties, at least she has a strategic plan for Dharmapuri, not the oft heard leverage of Dravidian invincibility. And she represents a growing woman power.
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BJP’s Tamilisai Vs DMK’s Tamizhachi: Who Will Win The South Chennai Seat?

BJP has fielded former Governor of Telangana and Puducherry Tamilisai Soundararajan from South Chennai seat against DMK incumbent Tamizhachi Thangapandian. Tamil is the pivot that strikes, in the names of these two formidable ladies and incidentally both are 62-year old. So, what’s special about DMK MP Thamizhachi Thangapandian (her name and its significance is in itself an oeuvre in Dravidam) who was elected in 2019?  Thamizhachi has impeccable credentials — highly educated, taught English in Chennai’s Queen Mary’s College, author, lyricist , orator, sister of  DMK heavyweight Minister Thangam Thennarasu and wife of late Thangapandian also an influencer of the party. Is this fight seen as Plebe Vs Patrician? Why was Tamilisai chosen to take on this high profile incumbent Thamizhachi? According to a media analyst, the ex- Governor, who lost to Kanimozhi in 2019, is a nimble and sagacious politician…she may appear the perfect foil for a sophisticate Thamizhachi, but in terms of easy touch points Tamilisai is adept at spontaneous camaraderie. On a realpolitik level, South Chennai is a middle class bastion that has seen enough of Dravidian rhetoric, and may be ready for a change given the BJP wave in the South riding on Modi’s charisma and K Annamalai’s padayatra. South Chennai could be a litmus test for BJP’s entry. Already there are references to a cult Tamil film dance competition in Vanjikottai Valiban where late Padmini and Vyjayanthimala compete in a nimbly choreographed dance. And the hero applauds, “Sabaash, Sariyana potti (in Tamil it means wow, a good fight)”.
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A Different Wednesday: Rajini, Kamal and Dhanush Make News For Different Reasons

Wednesday, March 20 had compelling events at different venues. Superstar Rajinikanth inaugurated Kauvery Hospital’s advanced quaternary care centre at Vadapalani. His address was peppered with personal anecdotes and much humour. Evoking laughter, he said “This body has been through many hospitals…Isabella, Kauvery, Ramachandra, St. Elizabeth (Singapore) and The Mayo Clinic (USA).” Time was when the Alwarpet Kauvery Hospital was identified by another landmark…Kamal Haasan’s residence across the road. Today, its prominence makes it the GPS for Kamal’s residence/office. Ouch! Was that a reference to Kamal’s drop in popularity after his Rajya Sabha seat acceptance? The same day saw actor Dhanush, the estranged Damaad of Rajini, announcing his new film — a biopic on music maestro Ilayaraja. Guess what, the music for this biopic is by Ilayaraja himself. Surprise, surprise ….the screenplay is by Kamal. Dhanush gave an emotional vent to his aspirations, “I have longed to play the role of this living music legend. And I now have only one more wish…to act as Rajinikanth in a biopic,”even as Kamal shared the stage.
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BJP Stitches Seat-Sharing Deal With PMK, A Shocked EPS Speechless

The past three days saw  an edge of the seat thriller even as the father son duo of the PMK, Dr S Ramadoss  and Dr Anbumani Ramadoss did the pendulum rock to choose between the BJP and the AIADMK. Over dinner, father dear was said to have made an emotion charged appeal to son, “This could well be my last election…my wish is to send at least a couple of PMK MPs to Delhi. Just agree to this once, then you can have your way.” Anbumani, already on the horns of his most challenging dilemma, agreed. Emissaries from PMK and AIADMK met for sealing the deal. Reportedly, AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) drove to Thailapuram to personally oversee the tie up. Obviously, a Shivaratri must have ensued, to change the firm stand of senior Ramadoss, who was convinced with the most powerful arguments and lure, to join the BJP bandwagon. Imagine Edappadi’s shock and jolt when he heard about the latest nail biting finish to the swinging deal. BJP chief K Annamalai and Union minister L Murugan have played the most convincing roles in this crucial tie up, powerful enough to make Senior Ramadoss say, “PM Modi has worked tirelessly for this country. The people of TN are ready for a change, having experienced Dravidam in power”. The fine-tuned print of the deal will be revealed soon, but a visibly satisfied Dr. Anbumani made the acceptance speech when he stood tall and said “we have chosen”. And the Pied Piper of Hamelin continues to play his tune.
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Tamilisai Poll Vaults From Twin Raj Bhavans To The Heat And Dust Of Elections

Sixty-two year old Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan is undoubtedly the acknowledged heroine of the election “manch”. And with good reason. The full time Governor of Telangana and the stand in Governor for Puducherry put in her papers and walked out of Raj Bhavan to wade in the heat and dust of the ensuing elections. She is cautious though, amidst speculations that are pinging around like a gaming parlour. Having lost to DMK’s Kanimozhi in Tuticorin in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, this colourful BJP personality was written off as a political power, even as she was made the Governor of Telangana, where she found herself in a stormy environment when K Chandrasekhar Rao’s party Bharat Rashtra Samiti was the face of power. But Governor Soundararajan could tenaciously hold her own, in fact it was obvious that she honed her power skills even as she was given additional charge of Puducherry. But close aides could see through her hankering to get into active politics, not be a figurehead representative of the BJP even as she saw the rise and rise of K Annamalai as TN BJP chief. Her resignation made waves and now the buzz is rife …is she a key Prachara Beerangi (Tamil for cannon) or is she contesting from Tuticorin or S. Chennai or no surprise, Puducherry?  Watch this space for the role of her career… Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan … she of the colourful bold print sarees, flowers in her hair and dazzling smile.
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Manjummel Boys: The Malayalam Film Much Applauded But A Voice Of Anger Slams It

Ever since its release, Manjummel Boys, the mind bending Malayalam movie has been acclaimed as a super hit film, raking in Rs 165 crore worldwide. Manjummel Boys (directed by Chidamabaram) has caught people’s craze like a roller coaster ride. The compelling twists and nail biting suspense builds up into a masterpiece narrative…fate has a way of twisting the most ordinary tourist shenanigans into tragic ends. Even as reviewers are  going  gaga over Manjummel Boys, one voice , that of Tamil author Jeyamohan has set the cat among cooing pigeons by slamming such deification of tourist culture in the most derogatory way that has further spiralled into Mallu Tamilian antagonism. In his book Yanai Doctor (Elephant Doctor), he has captured the “condemnable tourist culture of Malayalis (whom he terms in unpardonable terms as Porikkis, a pejorative no person has the right to use, least of all an author). Jeyamohan hits at the acceptance of Malayalam movies which routinely show men drinking, vomiting, getting into brawls and generally making a menace as a tourist. What angers him…the tourists after drinking, throw empty bottles on the roadsides, elephants treading on these broken glass pieces get hurt in their feet, infected…and many more such environmentally cruel acts. His conclusion, “It is movies like Manjummel Boys that deify rowdy behaviour, making it acceptable in society”. The argument can be turned over and over like dosa chains…good cinema art is appreciated wherever it comes from, deep concern for the environment must start with parenting.
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Kamal Haasan Strikes A Quid Pro Quo Deal With Stalin And Gets A Rajya Sabha Seat

Makkal Needhi Mayyam (MNM) party founder and Kollywood’s abiding Ulaganayagan, Kamal Haasan and Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin must have heaved a sigh of relief after their electoral deal. Both came out smelling roses. Even as Stalin’s tightrope act for seat sharing with his alliance partners was swinging like a suspension bridge, his deal with Kamal made headlines for all the right views. Imagine having a star campaigner like Kamal doing the rounds for the DMK among a cinema-fixated populace. From 2017, Kamal had posted his political ambitions on Twitter (now X). So when he launched MNM in 2018, fans and followers flocked to him. Kamal oozing self-assurance was happy hosting Bigg Boss and the laurels/money the reality show fetched…striding two worlds, multitasking, a talent many a Kollywood star has mastered. MGR embodied flamboyance, now seen as a Rajinikanth brand. Kamal is a thespian of the Shivaji Ganesan lineage. In 2019, MNM created a loud buzz, with a vote share of 3.7%. But in 2021, Kamal lost to BJP’s Vanathi Srinivasan and his party fared poorly. Then came the huge film blockbuster Vikram and Kamal’s swag and self-confidence shot up. Enough to reach out to Rahul Gandhi in his Bharat Jodo Yatra. Is Kamal happy to enter the Parliament via Rajya Sabha? Will he overtake his close friend and cinema rival, who turned back at the starting line? Only time will tell.
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Popular Tamil Star Ajith’s Hospitalisation And Surgery Scares Family, Fans And Producers

When a popular film star is hospitalised, the fans go crazy and rumours take wings especially when the family and medical staff are tight-lipped. Fifty-two year old Ajith kumar, Thala for his fans was hospitalised on the March 7 ostensibly for a full health check-up at Apollo Hospital, Chennai. And this news of his hospitalisation spread like wildfire. Ever since his return from Azerbaijan after the shoot of the much hyped VidaaMuyarchi (where art director Milan Fernandez died of a heart attack) Ajith had stoically put up with constant migraines, neck pain and loss of energy…but such health setbacks were part of this car and bike race enthusiast who had been through a few accidents as a racer. Also his serious stunts for his action filled films already put him at risk, but Ajith insisted on dangerous action shots for authenticity. Apollo Hospital doctors advised for a full check-up including MRI. Sure enough the MRI proved providential; it was found that the ear brain nerve was blocked by ganglion cyst or non-cancerous lump. Immediately, surgery was done and the lump removed. Ajith was discharged on March 9 with a stern warning to take complete rest, avoid risky body contact action shots and even flying. Ajith’s son Aadvith had just celebrated his birthday and the pictures were still trending as a happy family.
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Seat Sharing Pact: Is EPS Whistling In The Dark?

AIADMK supremo Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) is striding like a sumo wrestler. Political wags are impressed with his show of bravado even as the mighty BJP like the canny spider is inviting him to “come to my parlour”. He has stood his ground of stand-alone status for the Lok Sabha polls for six months, a defiance that has confused and confounded his flock. A senior analyst from the Vikatan Group warns against anyone taking his leverage for granted. This analyst quotes Palaniswami’s resilience in the wake of Jayalalithaa’s demise and how he managed to complete the elected term for the party, in the face of open rebellion by OPS and backroom manoeuvres by Dinakaran and Sasikala to hijack and Two Leaves election symbol and many an attempt to unseat him. He is confident of the support of the moneyed Gounders and his own party strongmen Jayakumar, Shanmugam and others who are voter influencers. Despite several concerted efforts of the BJP to wean him back, EPS stands adamant. EPS shared logic with his close aides “Suppose we get into the alliance, win some MP seats, where’s the guarantee that they won’t be enticed to cross over? I would rather prove our own strength to have bargaining power, than cave in to be used expediently.”  The BJP is sure to have its own strategy …EPS or no EPS. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, nor failure fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”.
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Tamil Nadu Electoral Seat Sharing Talks, Spicy As Sambhar

Tamil Nadu is where power packed deals are taking shape for seat sharing talks with DMK cracking the whip.  To deal with pouting allies and demands. Take veteran Vaiko heading the MDMK. He insists that this time, his party wants to contest on its own symbol. Vaiko is also insisting on the coveted Trichy Lok Sabha seat. Stalin agreed for the first condition, but was not budging on the demand for one Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha seat. Vaiko’s six-year Rajya Sabha term ends in 2025, and he wants son, Durai to move in seamlessly. The DMK is challenged to accommodate CPI, CPM and other allies. The Congress has a new leader, Selvaperundagai who is keen to show that the new boss has his own agenda and perception. After two rounds of high decibel negotiation with DMK, he is bent on getting the nine seats, the same number it contested in 2019.  Kamal Hasaan who has also aligned with DMK is bent on getting either Coimbatore seat or south Chennai but incumbent Marxists MP is refusing to budge. Will Stalin accede to Kamal’s request or promise him Rajya Sabha seat? But Annamalai is the Trojan horse in this alphabet soup as it is his untiring image building which has turned this election to a three cornered fight  for the first time in TN. As for the AIADMK, which has cut loose from the NDA fortress, it is very clear that only those with deep pockets (deep enough to register their claim at Rs 15 crore a pop for a seat) need apply.
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Incredible! Air India’s Safety Instructions Video Goes Viral

Most of us know about safety instructions video ennui, even as we buckle up our seat belts and wait for take-off. Whether shown as live mime by bored air hostess, or as a video shot with performing robots, take off videos are pushed into the lowest rung of consciousness, except if you are a first time flier. After Tatas took over they are changing many of Air India’s touchpoint profiles — new livery, new aircraft, a whole new attitude to commercial travel’s competitive ethos. McCann Worldwide’s Prasoon Joshi, music icon Shankar Mahadevan and Bharatbala have conjured up a winner in the new safety instruction video which has gone viral. Ingeniously projecting India’s exotic and energetic dances, the safety instructions are embedded and nuanced through eight dance forms set against ancient temple architecture and verdant landscape. India is unique for its art forms…let alone one classical dance, how many countries can boast of such a variety in which the costumes, jewellery and energetic moves make for such an immersive experience? Air India started its first branding image …a child holding up a frame to watch myriad countries to tempt her wanderlust, this new video uses the same frame to view the dances. Incredible India and its facets are packaged in short vignettes…showcasing tourism promo, safety and exotic art all at once. Mile Sur Mera Tumara, Tho Nrithya Bane Hamaara.
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Photo : dtnxt

Sasikala Caused A Storm In Poes Garden With Open House Lunch On Jayalalithaa’s 76th Birth Anniversary

The 24th of February was an unusual day. It was Masi Magam (as per Tamil calendar), the auspicious Magam star of the Masi month — an unusual combination of date of birth and star birthday falling on the same day of the late J Jayalalithaa (Amma). So, VK Sasikala, (Chinnamma), a close confidante of Jayalalithaa hosted the mother of all lunches at her mint new house, Jayalalithaa Illam in Poes Garden, Chennai. Sasikala had formally celebrated the Gruhapravesam, a month back. She planned this grand event on Masi Magam to honour and relive the memory of her patron and friend. Sasikala’s house is bigger than Jayalalithaa’s bungalow and the lunch spread was sumptuous.  Cars were milling around as numerous former AIADMK members and Sasikala faithful’s elbowed for vantage and advantage. Just across the narrow stretch, JJ’ niece Deepa hosted a memorial lunch too at Veda Nilayam, the landmark residence of Jayalalithaa, one of the most powerful women politicians of this country. But one visitor to Sasikala’s house who caught everybody’s attention was the superstar Rajini clad in a dhoti and white shirt with a housewarming gift in hand. As he came out of Sasikala’s house, surmises, presumptions and speculations were buzzing around. To the waiting media Rajini said “This house is like a temple. I pray to God and wish the lady much fame, name and happiness here “. When a journalist asked, “Who will fill the vacuum left by Jayalalithaa”? The superstar quipped “No politics please”, and walked away with super energy.  
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Tamil Superstar Suriya To Play Karna In Rakeysh Mehra’s Rs 500 Crore Epic Extravaganza

It is happening…ancient Indian ethos and its myriad mythologies are mined for breathtaking cinema, to combine scale, complex story plots, heroism, venality and religious fervour into spectacular cinematic art. Most would agree that after Lord Rama, Karna is the most recalled warrior hero. Bollywood director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has zeroed in on this epic character, Karna and plans to create a pan India screen extravaganza at a cost of 500 crore. Popular Tamil hero Suriya has been signed for the same. Suriya is now striding the pan India scene with his about to release Kanguva, another period drama. Sudha Kongara of the Surarai Pottru fame is directing Suriya in Purananuru.. Suriya’s leading lady in Karna is late Sridevi’s daughter Janhavi Kapoor, a choice that is bound to add value to this Kapoor who is yet to snag that super hit status her mother repeated in many films. Karna is a character with a gold mine potential to explore his many facets …a first born whose mother Kunti does not acknowledge him, his five Pandava brothers who are unaware of Karna’s blood bond, and a warrior who stands by Duryodhan for all the wrong life decisions, and how Lord Krishna cajoles him to part with his life guarding Kavach appealing to Karna’s legendary largesse. Even the most cynical audience is bound to be moved by his charisma. A hero like Karna and a talent like Suriya’s ….waiting to happen. POWERED BY : IDFC FIRST BANK
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Stalin Leaves Nothing To Chance, Election Manifesto Planned As Precisely As A Rocket Launch

Coming to power after a 10-year hiatus has taught the DMK about unique, multiple dimensions of appealing to the electorate. Poll strategist Prashant Kishor has imprinted his distinctive stamp on the DMK’s playbook. So before finalising the party’s election manifesto, teams led by party leaders have undertaken surveys to find out what people want in the DMK manifesto. Party supremo MK Stalin is dinning into his party generals, “Fixing your targets firmly is the first step to victory”. Kanimozhi’s team has already completed the survey. What is overtly and covertly evident is the master stroke of involving her…leaving no room for doubt …backroom gripe is ruled out. Her team has surveyed 20 districts, 10,000 direct responders, received 4000 responses, apart from harvesting suggestions and demands from 18,000 phone calls and social media responses. February 25 is the deadline for such suggestions to reach the DMK citadel, Arivalayam. The dovetailing of the TN budget presented by Thangam Thennarasu is an amazing alchemy of populist schemes poured into a shiny chalice of Tamil rhetoric …it covers education, healthcare, roads improvement…in fact it showcases the Ram Rajya golden orb in a Dravidian gift wrap.  And Stalin’s Assembly motivation speech left its imprint. “A budget in Tamil is Nidhi arikkai…but we have made it a Needhi Arikkai. Social justice to all, with speed in implementation. TN is second in GDP with a growth rate of 8.19%.” The bugle has sounded …it’s left for the cadres and leaders to drum up a resounding victory.
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Health Apart, Is Stalin Stressed By Multiple Election Issues?

Whatever the criticism one may have of politicians when he/she is in power, the kind of hard stressful work that he/she is subject to at election time is staggering. But somehow, somewhere politicians find a fount of adrenaline driven energy and determination to cope. Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin has not shied away from giving his best shot, despite the talk that his health is not robust. Just the other day, when the Assembly was in session, he left early, quickly followed by son Udhayanidhi, more MLA’s and some ministers. The leader of the Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami shrewdly noted the vacant treasury benches and chose to make it question hour, shooting a volley of questions and expecting responses, even as the house resounded with applause for his grandstanding. Stalin heard about this, and the Whip was told in no uncertain terms that the forthcoming Budget Session would not tolerate such laxity. But what Stalin is more challenged by is the contentious seat sharing issue for Lok Sabha. There are instances of his trying to welcome alliance hoppers but his party influencers are busy giving him advice about why Congress should not be given nine seats but only 5. They trot out the UP case study. And with TN Congress chief KS Azhagiri wanting a RS seat, the math just got tricky for Stalin. The influencers further say, the Congress last won Arni, Krishnagiri,Tiruchy,Karur and Sivaganga. As the party in power we could contest in four of these. Stalin indeed has to do real tightrope walking.
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‘Article 370’: Cinematic Art Or Propaganda Hype?

Two of Bollywoods beautiful and talented actors, Yami Gautam Dhar and Priyamani are unravelling the story of Article 370, which is set to hit screens on February 23.  The talk about this film, directed by Aditya Suhas Jambhale, is hard to ignore, even as comparisons with The Kashmir Files, Kerala Story and Emergency fly thick and fast. It is the timing of its release that has set expectations high and may be controversial. With the election machinery already rolling in full force, a powerful medium like cinema focusing on the abrogation of Article 370 is bound to land with a sonic thud. For honing its propaganda skills in multiple ways, the BJP is often complimented for its talent to use social media and its communication bag of tricks. But what the Dravidian cavalry taught about using cinema as the quickest, and most effective touchpoint with the electorate is a many layered case study. Tamil Nadu chief ministers M Karunanidhi and MGR used this powerful medium to totally transform an electorate under the spell of Sanskritised ideology. The Dravidian evolution is parallel to its cinematic evolution as an ideal propaganda machine. But it must be said that these two powerful leaders did not stir up religious clashes. Producer Aditya Dhar at the press meet when questioned about the timing of his film as it helps the BJP said, “To win the elections, we don’t need films like mine. The Ram Mandir took shape after a 100 years’ wait. It is now a fait accompli”.
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Of Revolving Doors And Fleeing AIADMK Senior Leaders

Electoral alliance plans are evolving fast, even as party doors are kept revolving.  So when the Home Minister Amit Shah in his interview to ‘Daily Thanthi’ said, “Our doors are open for anyone to come and join us”.  D Jayakumar, AIADMK heavyweight reacted, “BJP doors may be open, but we have shut the doors for BJP, put a big lock too”. Perhaps defying him, 15 former AIADMK legislators and former MP walked in to the BJP, and were given a warm welcome by BJP president JP Nadda, Union ministers Rajeev Chandrasekhar, L Murugan and Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai. With so many AIADMK leaders crossing over to BJP where was AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS)? EPS it is learnt had just worshipped at the Bhadra Kaali Amman temple when the media encircled him to get his views. His bland response was “I have not seen the newspapers this morning. I can clarify only after reading the news”. Was EPS trying hard to save his face? Or was he really unaware of his brood’s cross over? Even as a former Congress leader’s  son, well respected and considered a quiet achiever was said to be negotiating a truce and face saving retreat, things were playing out without a script. The modus operandi advised by brokering political strategists ….”Sap bhi mare aur lathi bhi na toote”.
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Photo : @actorvijay

Superstar Vijay’s Political Party’s Name Confuses And Confounds Tamil Nadu

Hot on the heels of his crack of dawn powwow with his party lieutenants, Tamil film superstar Vijay finally announced the name of his party — Tamilaga Vetri Kazhagam (Vetri is Tamil for Vijay). As expected it was received with oodles of enthusiasm from his devoted fans and open criticisms from other political outfits. AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami says Vijay is being backed by BJP. Superstar Vijay is following the path already trekked by MGR, J Jayalalithaa, Vijayakanth, Sarathkumar and Kamal Haasan. Looks like politics is going to be his full time job as he will give up acting after his 69th film is released. But, one thing is clear: his party TVK is not contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha polls; they will be contesting only the 2026 Assembly elections in TN. Well known film director Ameer has tried to decode Vijay’s strategy. “No one would have raised questions if he had announced it after the Lok Sabha elections. He must be the only aspirant who neither met the people nor the media. Whoever advised him has misled him.” The claim that his official astrologer chose the auspicious date (Feb 2) and time for announcing his grand entry made for more spice. The addendum …though Vijay is a Christian by faith, he believes in astrology and all the attendant superstitions of the land. An experienced commentator demystifies. Vijay has cannily entered the political arena and set the cat among the pigeons. Right now Vijay is a Ghilli –a blockbuster he starred in 2004.
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Post Ayodhya, Are South Filmmakers Betting Big On Mythology?

Contemporary South cinema is now exploring an age old theme with the newest of technology and marketing missiles. Kollywood, Tollywood and Kannada cinemas are cannily exploiting ancient mythology themes with gusto. On Makar Sankranti day, Telugu film director Prasanth Varma’s Hanu Man was released and the promo promised that every Rs 5 from a ticket would be contributed to the Ram Mandir construction in Ayodhya. And he was not wrong with his brand equity math – he donated Rs 2.6 crore to Sri Ram Mandir. Hot on the heels of Hanu Man, Varma proclaimed Jai Hanuman, the sequel/prequel on January 22 with a devotional pooja organised at the Hyderabad Hanuman mandir. Varma’s soon to be shot script features a fantasy world of superhuman beings and incidents from the Aadi Kaavyam with never before explored events to be woven into the film. Kannada filmmaker Suresh Arts Productions announced Sri Rama, Jai Hanuman on the same Prana Prathistha day, planning a unique story telling in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and English. Ramanand Sagar had set a benchmark viewership record when his Ramayan made television history in 1987-88, when traffic countrywide would come to a standstill every Sunday.  A new age revival of Hindu mythology and stories that have stood the test of centuries is about to happen. The cinema factory has an instinct for super profitable panorama. Are you ready to be enchanted and entranced?
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Is Tamil Superstar Vijay Getting Ready To Take A Political Plunge?

On January 25, the 49-year old Tamil superstar Vijay who has been nursing political ambition secretly called about 150 party apparatchiks to his Paniyur party office in Chennai at 5.30 am. This early morning exercise was done to stave off media glare and also collect affidavit signatures to register his party with the Election Commission of India. Sources say, his loyal soldiers arrived quietly from districts the previous night, it was followed by brainstorming over possible party names.  The fans-cum-party cadres were treated to a rousing motivational speech by Vijay also known as Thalapathy.  Even with so much beehive activity, Vijay and his fans converted to party cadres ensured no info leaks to the media. So when asked for Kazhagam (party) name all that the media scouts got …”you have it….Kazhagam”. Ok the teaser trailer is out. Now for the main feature! Is Vijay yet another Tamil film actor wanting to cash in on his filmi star status?  Earlier, it was MGR, Jayalalithaa who became TN chief ministers. Is Vijay crowding the already crowded political scene or are his ground preparations and calculations aimed at making a real difference to the people of Tamil Nadu who have invested their faith in him? The cat will be out of the bag soon. Vijay is the highest paid actor who has played lead roles in 67 films and has significant fan following. In X it is nearly 5 million. POWERED BY: ICICI LOMBARD
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Netflix Flexes Movie Muscle With Surfeit Of New Releases For 2024

Recently, Netflix disclosed its first ever entertainment audit with most details ever for any streaming service. It just didn’t happen because the service suddenly felt it had to share its eyeballs count and trail with viewers and other stakeholders. The trigger was the conflict that erupted between Hollywood labour unions and content originators who demanded more compensation. Netflix decided to go public with what its viewers watched and wanted, which succeeded most and which global entertainment industry could shore up Netflix growth. 55%accounted for original shows and 45% for other producers who used the platform. The Night Manager was voted the most watched show. No desi show made the list. Sure enough Netflix has now spiced up its act in more ways– the line-up of new Tamil and Telugu movies has made its Indian viewers gasp. Imagine the feverish anticipation for Magizh Thirumeni’s Vidaa Muyarchi with Ajith in your sitting room, Director S Shankar unravelling Kamal Haasan’s Indian 2, Director Pa. Ranjith called the thrill shots for Vikram’s spectacular gold rush saga Thangalan, Sivakarthikeyan SK 21, and that Johnny come lately Vijay Sethupathi in Maharaja. The female showstoppers were not far behind. Keerti Suresh is slated to come into your homes as Dream Warrior and Revolver. Even as Bollywood tanked, Tamil and Telugu films were on a roll. Now with 2023 a comeback year for Bollywood, Tamil and Telugu story writers and producers are all set to cater to more esoteric choices.
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Will Mani Ratnam’s ‘Thug Life’ Be The Father Of Gangster Movies?

Fans are already panting and chomping at the bit in anticipation of Mani Ratnam’s Thug Life, Kamal Haasan’s 234th movie produced by Rajkamal Films and Red Giant movies with AR Rahman scoring the music. Of course talk immediately veers to the Hollywood Godfathers of Gangster films, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Sergio Leone, who set benchmarks for edge of the seat classics. Mani Rathnam is no novice, his classics Nayakan and Dalapathi are still etched in film buff’s memories. Fresh after the super hit two part Ponniyin Selvan, Rathnam is chiselling Thug Life frame by frame, directing some of the most talented south stars — Kamal, Jeyam Ravi, Dulquer Salman and Trisha. Kollywood has created a promising bag of tricks to keep fans asking for more till the release of the film. Apart from cannily posted tit bits on social media, the trends for pre-marketing promos are getting more sophisticated. Thug Life trackers are getting to savour goodies like glimpse videos which post new additions to the already formidable cast. Imagine the anticipation for Joju George fans (his recent multi-dimensional films Puli Mada, Joseph and Iratta have set the screens on fire) with his glimpse video for Thug Life. Gautham Karthik is also in the lineup. But the actor who really hit the target is Aishwarya Lekshmi, the Ponniyin Selvan underplayed glamorous siren. Kamal and Mani Rathnam, the conniving cousins are about to make gangster film history with Thug Life.
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‘12th Fail’ Could Be A Riveting Case Study For IAS Training At Mussoorie

2023 was definitely the Year of the Phoenix for Bollywood. From the troughs of box office damp squibs, despair and taunts about learning from south filmmakers, Bollywood regained its respectability, and above all bankability. Movies like Jawan, Pathan, Gadhar 2 and Animal brought cheer to stakeholders with the box office jingling. Even as established stars were basking in the glory, quietly, almost sneakily a less known hero, Vikrant Massey vaulted onto the screen with 12th Fail! This just about Rs 20 crore budget film has set the audience agog, amazed and astonished. Not for impossible stunts and a fantasy formula but a riveting reality check that has set the country talking. Abhishek Bachchan wrote on X, “12th Fail is the best film of 2023”. The stormy siren of Bollywood, Kangana Ranaut who had earlier referred to Massey as a cockroach, now says Vikrant is the new Irfan Khan. There are others who say “A leaner Sanjeev Kumar, Massey is incredible “. Briefly 12th Fail is the poignant story of Manoj Kumar Sharma from the wilderness of Chambal who dares to dream of becoming an IPS officer. Massey and his portrayal are bound to launch many such aspirants from the heartlands of rural India.  It is quite known that UPSC is one of the toughest exams to crack. We predict that Massey’s compelling performance may inspire many youths. Who knows 12th Fail may be a case study at the Academy in Mussoorie.

TRENDS & VIEWS

Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.